MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Local schools are intentionally prepping students to pursue STEM careers, even at the lowest grade level. Monrovia Elementary School is one of them. Friday's STEM Expo had the entire student body opening their minds to a future beyond their imaginations.
Open your minds to STEM
Students were seen everywhere playing and working together at school. It seemed as though classes were canceled for the day.
"It kind of looks like that, doesn't it?" said Sherrie Frady, a Monrovia Elementary gifted students specialist.
Instead, the kids got some outside the classroom learning about science, technology, engineering, and math.
These kids are getting excited about the future
"I came up with the idea to have an engineering expo." Frady works with gifted students at Monrovia. This specific group of kids performs higher academically than the average student.
Once a week, the gifted students receive specialized instruction like the engineering design process. Their in-class learning was shown Friday to the entire school. Madison County upperclassmen students were involved in the activities for all grade levels and multiple research, technology, and engineering companies arrived for the day's STEM exhibit too.
"I got to capture their enjoyment of seeing what [all the students] can do with their hands," said Sparkman High School junior Cherish Hollie. "Math isn't always boring. It isn't always doing equations and solving for 'X.'"
Not only do the students at all grade levels get to work with their hands - but they also are getting the opportunity to add to Huntsville's booming market.
Madison County Schools is planning ahead
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wrote in a press release published in November, “Academically, Alabama’s students have fallen behind in math and science proficiency and significant educator shortages make it difficult to recruit, train, and retain well-qualified educators equipped in the methods of a modern STEM classroom. This is why I am encouraged by the recommendations included in Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success, developed by the Governor’s Advisory Council for Excellence in STEM (ACES).”
The governor said she hopes to fill 850,000 STEM-related jobs by 2026. She wrote in the same press release - Alabama is a national leader in such fields, but companies have difficulty recruiting qualified candidates. Monrovia Elementary School has taken an approach to fill the gap early-on.
This could work!
"Our focus on STEM education even at the elementary level is really intentional," said assistant principal Sara McClendon. "We are building that pipeline to fill the positions in the future."
There's more - Monrovia Elementary School received an educational grant to fund a STEM library. Students at all grade levels can check out and take home the specialized STEM kits. Students can use them to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math.